WWC review of this study

Freshman year financial aid nudges: An experiment to increase FAFSA renewal and college persistence.

Castleman, B. L., & Page, L. C. (2014). EdPolicyWorks Working Paper Series No. 29. Charlottesville, VA: EdPolicyWorks. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED562791

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    808
     Students
    , grade
    PS

Reviewed: September 2021

No statistically significant positive
findings
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Progressing in college outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Enrollment - Fall, Sophomore Year

Financial aid nudges vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Full sample;
808 students

81.20

80.60

No

--
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

Enrollment - Spring, Sophomore Year

Financial aid nudges vs. Business as usual

2 Semesters

Full sample;
808 students

83.90

79.30

No

--

Enrollment - Continuous, Sophomore Year

Financial aid nudges vs. Business as usual

2 Semesters

Full sample;
808 students

76.90

73.60

No

--

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • Female: 62%
    Male: 38%
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    Northeast
  • Race
    Black
    36%
    Other or unknown
    55%
    White
    9%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic    
    25%
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
    75%

Setting

Students who participated in the study had worked with uAspire, a national nonprofit focused on issues of college affordability and financial literacy, in either their Springfield, Massachusetts or Boston location while still enrolled in high school. Participants were drawn from the set of students who had a cell phone number on file with uAspire and who enrolled in college for the first time in the fall 2012 semester. Among students in the sample, 88% were enrolled in a Massachusetts-based college or university.

Study sample

The study had 808 participants, with 413 in the intervention condition and 395 in the comparison condition. The study participants were all first-year college students, with females comprising 62% of the sample. 36% were Black and 25% were Latino. 83% were eligible for Pell grants. Just over one-fourth of students (28%) were enrolled in a two-year community college and 72% were enrolled as freshmen in a four-year institution.

Intervention Group

The intervention consisted of a set of automated text messages sent to students during the spring semester of their first year of college, reminding them about important information related to re-filing for financial aid. These text messages were sent systematically and included information on important upcoming timelines for financial aid and FAFSA renewal. The text messages also contained information on a range of related topics, including the importance of remaining in good academic standing in order to qualify for financial aid. Students in the intervention condition began receiving messages in late January 2013, receiving the messages approximately once every two weeks until August 2013.

Comparison Group

Students in the comparison condition did not receive text messages, but could receive support from uAspire if they requested it.

Reviewed: December 2014

Meets WWC standards without reservations
Study sample characteristics were not reported.
 

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